Intervention without leverage: Explaining the prevalence of weak mediators

Published

Journal Article

Existing research on international mediation emphasizes the importance of leverage in altering the combatants' ability to reach a negotiated settlement. Less understood is the role of third parties that do not have access to sources of leverage even though they comprise a substantial amount of mediation efforts. This paper highlights two potential explanations for the prevalence of "weak" mediators. First, a choice of third parties without leverage might be a product of the "supply side" preferences of the international community, in particular, the great powers. Second, the inclusion of third parties without any leverage can result from actors hedging their commitments to the peace process when they suspect with some uncertainty that one side will use third-party involvement insincerely for ends other than peace. Using data from the Managing Intrastate Low Level Conflicts (MILC) project, in conjunction with the PRIO/UPPSALA Armed Conflict data, empirical results using competing risk models confirm both logics. Mediators with weak leverage are more likely when an actor has strong incentives to stall: specifically, when the immediate costs of conflict are high, there is domestic political pressure in the absence of democratic accountability, and relative bargaining power is shifting. The findings also suggest that supply-side dynamics matter. Weak mediators are less likely in the presence of substantial foreign investment and in neighborhoods with strong states, but mediators of all types are more likely in democratic neighborhoods. To further explore the role of insincere motivations, the paper considers the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) in Sri Lanka, brokered by Norway. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Beardsley, K

Published Date

  • July 1, 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 272 - 297

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1547-7444

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0305-0629

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/03050620903084547

Citation Source

  • Scopus